Official Visit Recruit Updates

UCLA held their first, big official visit weekend on December 14th-16th, and here are updates from each of the commits who took their official trips. As of Wednesday morning, here are recaps from Kevan Walker, Damien Holmes, Nick Crissman, Nelson Rosario, Johnathan Franklin and Rahim Moore...

Arcadia (Calif.) athlete Kevan Walker has had a front row seat to the coaching search at UCLA, with his father, DeWayne, serving as the interim coach for the Bruins and also having interviewed for the head coaching position.

But when Walker took his trip to UCLA this past weekend, he treated it, and was treated, just like one of the other committed players on the visit.

"It was a cool trip even though I've been there so many times," said Walker. "I'd seen a lot of things before, but this was more about the academic side of things for me. My mom was able to come on the trip too."

Walker has been a frequent visitor to UCLA since his dad came on staff, and he said the players treated him like one of the guys. "Osaar Rasshan was my host and we just hung out with all of the other players and recruits," said Walker. "It was cool to just be another recruit during the trip."

Walker said that some of the recruits and their families were trying to pry some information from him on the coaching situation, but he had a good, honest answer. "I told them I really don't know what's going on, because I really don't," said Walker. "So they kind of left it alone."

Walker did say that he's been keeping a close watch on the coaching search, for obvious reasons, and he is pulling for his father to receive the position, but said he has tried to stay out of it when talking with him.

"I know he'd love to be the head coach, and he's worked hard to be a head coach, but he's more worried about coaching the team for the Las Vegas Bowl," said Walker.

Walker said he spoke only briefly with his father on the visit, and it was in a recruit/coaching way, and that most of his time was spent with receivers coach Eric Scott. "I know EScott really well and he was just talking with me and telling me that I need to stick with UCLA," said Walker. "He had a meeting with me, Nelson (Rosario), Jerry (Johnson) and Antwon (Moutra), all the receivers, and we talked about what kind of impact we could make."

So as Walker keeps watching the coaching search, he's staying committed to UCLA, but he is keeping his options open. "I'm going to take a visit to Oregon State in January and one to Arizona in January," said Walker. "Utah has offered me, but I don't think I'm going to take a visit there."

----------------------------------------------

Colton (Calif.) defensive end Damien Holmes (6-4, 265) is one of the top recruits committed to UCLA, and Holmes took his visit to UCLA this past weekend.

"It was awesome, I really had a good time," said Holmes. "Tom Blake, the defensive end, was my host, and we got along really well."

Holmes had taken an official visit to Oregon earlier in the fall, and said that the visit to Eugene wowed him, but the UCLA visit stood out in other ways.

"I mean, the facilities at Oregon are top of the line, and that is what I would say is the biggest difference, but at UCLA, the players just all seemed like family there and we all get along really well," said Holmes. "I'm hoping that all the coaches can stay so this class can stay together."

Holmes said he was initially thinking of looking at Oregon more closely, but after his trip to UCLA, that that's not likely.

"I'm pretty much solid to UCLA now," said Holmes. "If Coach (DeWayne) Walker doesn't come back, there is a slight chance I'll re-open things, but for me, UCLA offers me a lot of things, which made me commit in the first place."

Holmes is also an excellent student, carrying a 3.7 GPA. Stanford had been poking around earlier in the fall, but the combination of athletics and academics, and the proximity to home, played a big role in his decision to commit to UCLA back in March. In the meantime, Holmes said he's doing what he can to keep the other committed players on board.

"Me and Nick Crissman were talking about how we need to keep everyone on board. We've all known each other for a while and hung out a lot during the summer at Anthony Dye's house or at the camps and we can do a lot of good things at UCLA if we stay together," said Holmes.

Holmes found out recently he was named the CIF-SS Central Division Defensive Player of the Year, and he was also selected to the Offense-Defense All-American Game in Miami next month, where he'll join fellow commits Aaron Hester and Patrick Larimore.

"That will be a lot of fun," said Holmes. "Any time I get a chance to play football, I'll take it."

Possibly the most physically ready of any of UCLA's defensive recruits, Holmes said he's aware there could be some early playing time for him in Westwood next fall.

"Coach (Todd) Howard and I talked about how they may need me next year, but I need to keep working hard and come in and be ready to play. Nothing will be handed to me," said Holmes.

Holmes is the #56 prospect in the country regardless of position and is the #6 defensive end in the nation by Scout.com.

----------------------------------------------

Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison quarterback Nick Crissman said he remains solidly committed to UCLA, and after his visit to Westwood this past weekend, Crissman is hoping that plenty more of the recruits are on the same page as him.

"I've been trying to talk to all of the guys, and build relationships with them, and trying to keep them to go to UCLA," said Crissman. "I know with the coaching change, guys are skeptical but if we keep everyone together in this class, it's going to be a great group of guys. That's one of the things we talked about this weekend. I think a lot of guys realize just how good we all could be together if we all stay together."

Crissman was hosted by quarterback Pat Cowan on his visit. "I've known Pat from going to the school, going to practices and games," said Crissman. "He's a really cool guy. I met most of the players on the team I hadn't before and they are all really cool."

Prior to the visit, Crissman had gotten in contact with nearly all of the commits to UCLA since Dorrell was fired, imploring them to stay on board.

"I mostly called everyone or texted everyone to see how everything was going and how everyone was doing with the change," said Crissman. "It's all about building relationships. I told them to stick with it and that it will play out. Some of them were asking me where I stand. My thing was, when I chose UCLA, it was about UCLA. I've always really loved UCLA and I didn't choose it for a coach, I chose it for the school. A lot of guys realize that's why they committed."

Crissman obviously could be greatly affected by the new head coach, especially when it's thought that it could be an offensive-minded guy, like Norm Chow, or if DeWayne Walker is retained, a new offensive coordinator would be coming in.

"Obviously I'd like a coach to come in who wants to throw the ball," said Crissman. "I think the one I wouldn't want is a coach who wants to run the option. I'm not exactly an option quarterback. Whoever they bring in, I'll be happy to play for. I've heard Coach Chow's name and I think it would be awesome if Coach Chow got the job. I'd definitely be honored to play for someone like him. I'd be honored to play under Coach Walker. I really like Coach Walker a lot and I'd really like him as a coach. Whether Coach Walker or Coach Chow is it, I think it'll be a good situation."

Crissman never talked extensively with Karl Dorrell, or offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, about what he would do as a freshman, but he said it was likely he would redshirt. A new coach, however, could mean an opportunity to earn playing time, especially as a freshman.

"I think the plan was for me to redshirt but I never really had the chance to talk with them (Dorrell and Norvell) about it. I'd love to go in and compete for a starting job. I'd like to play but if they want me to sit out, I'd take the redshirt and try and get bigger. I'm just happy to have the opportunity," said Crissman.

Early in the season, Crissman had some health issues, suffering from the flu for an extended period then having an appendectomy. As the season wore on, though, he was feeling better. "I'm 100% now, and I'm working out, running to try and stay in shape," said Crissman. "I'm ready for the all-star game."

Crissman is one of five UCLA commits selected to the ESPN/Under Armour All-American Game in January with Anthony Dye, Uona Kaveinga, E.J. Woods and Jeff Locke. A one-time UCLA commit, Aundre Dean, is also playing, and Crissman is rooming with him.

"I'll be working that angle a lot," said Crissman. "That will definitely be happening."

----------------------------------------------

Following the firing of Karl Dorrell a couple of weeks ago, Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino receiver Nelson Rosario said he was between a solid and a soft verbal. But things have changed after he took his official visit to UCLA this weekend.

"After the trip, you can put me back with UCLA solidly," said Rosario. "I had a really good time on the trip, and Coach (Eric) Scott had all of the receivers in a room and he told us we could be the best receiving group UCLA has brought in, in a long time."

Rosario said that one of the biggest questions most of the recruits had this weekend was what would be the status of Scott and interim coach DeWayne Walker.

"For a lot of the guys, we wanted to know if Coach Scott and Coach Walker are going to be back. I'm sticking with UCLA, but if they didn't come back, then there is a slight chance I might look at another school, but I'm committed to the school," said Rosario.

Rosario has heard the talk that UCLA is trying to bring in an offensive minded coach, and that stands out to him.

"I've been thinking about it since I heard Norm Chow could be coaching and knowing what his offense is like," said Rosario. "Coach Walker said to us, 'I worked with Norm Chow before and I'd have no problem sticking around if he came in.' So that would be cool."

Rosario said he still plans to take a visit to Oregon next month, likely the second weekend in January, but said not much can sway him on his decision.

"I really got along with all of the other (UCLA) recruits. Terrance Austin was my host and I had known him from state track meets when we competed against each other. I have a lot of respect for him because he's a smaller guy and he can really jump," said Rosario, one of the elite jumpers nationally.

Rosario said the visit was strictly for football, and he didn't get a chance to talk with the UCLA track staff, but it was reiterated to him that he can do both sports in college.

----------------------------------------------

Though he was hosted by a high school rival, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey athlete Johnathan Franklin said his trip to UCLA was more than he expected.

"I really liked my trip up there," said Franklin. "We got to bond more with the players and got to hang out with them. I look at them differently after spending time with them. They are all such good guys. The funny thing was I was hosted by Raymond Carter, and we used to play against each other. But it was all cool because we come from the same area.

In fact, Franklin's pairing with Carter, and his Dons teammate Rahim Moore being hosted by another Crenshaw alum, Brian Price, was something the four had a good laugh about.

"Yeah, you don't see Crenshaw guys and Dorsey guys hang out that much, but we're all going to be playing together so that's cool," said Franklin.

Franklin has taken plenty of unofficial trips to UCLA, but the official visit gave him a chance to see some different aspects of the school.

"We got to learn more about the academic side of things this time," said Franklin. "The academic program won't set you up from failure and they talked about how when you graduate from UCLA, the alumni will always take care of you and help you out."

Like most of the commits in this class, Franklin has grown close to interim coach DeWayne Walker and receivers coach Eric Scott, both instrumental in his recruitment.

"If Coach Walker or EScott stay, UCLA will be where I go," said Franklin. "If they leave, I'll think of other places to be at. But UCLA is far and away my number one choice."

While a new coach could ultimately determine Franklin's position in college, he said the plan now is for him to come in as a running back.

"They seemed to look at me more so on the offensive side of the ball, as far as running back, but to me, I love football and I'll play wherever. If I'm winning a Pac-10 championship or a national championship, I don't have a problem playing anywhere," said Franklin.

Franklin said he will likely take a trip next month to Arizona State, the only other school he's seriously considering at this point.

----------------------------------------------

Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey safety Rahim Moore, the highest rated commit to UCLA, was difficult to track down in the days after Karl Dorrell's firing, but Moore had plenty to say following his official visit to UCLA.

"Man, it was a cool trip," said Moore. "I had fun with everyone up there. I can't wait to get up in there and start school. I'd seen a part of UCLA I'd never seen before. And the more I was there, the more I liked it. I felt like that was where I needed to be."

Moore was hosted by Brian Price, a longtime friend of his.

"My boy BP was all over me this weekend, telling me to stick around. He and Alterraun Verner were talking to me about all that. They made the atmosphere great," said Moore. "BP has been a mentor to me."

Moore had been to several functions with the recruiting class, but said it was his first time meeting quarterback commit Nick Crissman.

"This was my first time meeting Nick Crissman, and that cat is cool," said Moore. "I'm going to go down to his house in a couple of days and go to the beach. And he's a good quarterback too."

It was the third visit for Moore, having tripped to Georgia and Arizona State previously. He's planning to take trips to North Carolina, Arizona and Texas, with one of them being unofficially, before Signing Day. But what is his status with the Bruins?

"I'm solid as a rock man," said Moore. "You ever have that feeling that a place is made for you, and you somewhere, and that's where you need to be? That's how I feel with UCLA."

But Moore said that could change, but only if DeWayne Walker and Eric Scott aren't back in Westwood next fall.

"We talked about that a little bit on the trip, but they didn't really tell us a whole lot about it. DeWayne Walker is the coach right now, and I'm still here with him. He didn't talk about the situation but he said don't base our decision on that. But if Coach Walker and Coach Scott aren't there, I need to have a backup plan," said Moore.

In the meantime, Moore said he, teammate Johnathan Franklin and fellow commit Aaron Hester all enjoyed their visit to Westwood and were talking about how things would be when they get there.

"Me, Aaron and Jet-Ski were all talking about what it will be like when we all get up there," said Moore. "Being there made us all want to get up there soon."

Moore has been selected to the U.S. Army All-American Game, an honor he's appreciative of.

"I've been working out for that game ever since the season ended," said Moore. "I want to leave my mark on the game like I hopefully left my mark at Dorsey."

Moore ended his career with the Dons with 112 tackles, seven interceptions, two which he took back for touchdowns, over 500 yards receiving and seven touchdowns through the air. He tied the Dorsey career mark with 19 career interceptions.


Bruin Report Online Top Stories